Benedict XVI Headed Back to Vatican

Leaves Summer Residence on Thursday

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 27, 2010 ( Benedict XVI says he is returning to the Vatican this Thursday, after his near three-month stay at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Unlike other years, this summer the Pope did not spend a vacation in the Alps, but stayed almost the entire season (since July 7) at the summer home.

He did take his customary break from general audiences as well as private audiences and the bishops’ five-yearly visits, resuming these meetings on Aug. 4.

Besides working to prepare the speeches and other activities of the two trips he already made this summer (Sept. 16-19 to the United Kingdom, and a day-trip Sept. 5 to Carpineto Romano, Italy), the Holy Father also worked on the third volume of his book «Jesus of Nazareth.»

He didn’t neglect his love for music (the Pope is a pianist), but he also worked on a fourth encyclical — thought to be about faith, to match his earlier encyclicals on the other theological virtues of charity and hope. And he might have begun preparations for two more upcoming trips: Oct. 3 to Palermo, and Nov. 6-7 to Spain.

Benedict XVI also met with his former students, as he does every year. The Aug. 27-29 study weekend focused on the Second Vatican Council priorities of fidelity and openness. Archbishop Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was the principal speaker for the meeting.

Today, as is his custom, the Pope gave a farewell address to various civil and Church officials in Castel Gandolfo, as well as the countless people who make his summer stay a success.

«I thank God and I am grateful to all of you, because everything was carried out always in order and tranquility,» he said.

The Pontiff referenced today’s liturgical feast of St. Vincent de Paul, entrusting his audience to this «apostle of charity, so loved by the Christian people.»

«May his virtuous example and his intercession inspire in your communities and in each one of you a renewed commitment of solidarity, so that the efforts of each one may cooperate in the building of the common good,» he said. «I accompany this cordial greeting with the assurance of my remembrance to the Lord, so that he will assist you all and your families with his grace and fill you with abundant consolations. I thank you again, dear friends, and bless you from my heart.»

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